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Oblates Active in ICCR AGM in Boston June 10th, 2012
The Oblates participated in the Annual General Meeting of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) that met at Simmons College in Boston from June 4-8. The corporate engagements over the last proxy season were evaluated – with successes celebrated, and plans laid for the 2012-2013 season. Areas in which the Oblates are active include: access to finance, extractives, global access to health, water, human trafficking, toxic chemicals, corporate governance and supply chain (labor) issues. John Ruggie, Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School and the UN Special Rapporteur behind the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business was honored at a reception Wednesday evening.
The work on the financial services sector continues to be a high priority for ICCR members and has generated significant media attention. Resolutions and statements by religious investors continue to draw attention to the extensive moral and ethical responsibilities that corporate actors in this space assume. The enduring impact of the destruction of nearly 17 trillion dollars of wealth since the near financial meltdown of September 2008 is a clear justification of the need for such vigilance. This work by ICCR members has strongly supported the efforts of numerous homeowners in places like the San Fernando Valley CA and Prince William County in VA to stay in their homes and restore their communities.
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UNCTAD Meeting Overcomes Serious Disagreements April 27th, 2012
At a contentious meeting of the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ending Thursday in Doha, Qatar, the role of the UN organization in examining trade and development was confirmed, but not after a week of hard debate. The Doha Mandate, adopted by consensus by the member States, requests that UNCTAD continue its work along the three pillars of consensus-building, policy research and technical assistance. “UNCTAD remains the focal point in the United Nations for the integrated treatment of trade and development, and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development,” reads part of the agreed text.
Profound discord between industrialized nations and developing countries threatened to ruin the UNCTAD meeting in Doha, and endangered the survival of this United Nations body that defends the interests of the developing nations of the South. Disagreements between the blocs, broadly identified as countries of the North and of the South, have arisen mainly from differing views of UNCTAD’s mandate and different visions of development and how it relates to social, environmental, economic and financial variables. One important area under discussion involved giving UNCTAD a mandate to investigate the current global financial crisis and its effects on the real economy, something for which developing countries and NGOs pressed, but which industrialized countries rejected out of hand.
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Goldman Sachs Heeds Faith-based Investors April 16th, 2012
Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s most powerful financial firms, has been forced to pay attention to faith-based shareholder advocacy.
The Rev. Seamus Finn, OMI, Director of the OMI JPIC Office was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article: “It’s been a difficult transition for …[Goldman to figure] out how to be a public company.” The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate owns 286,000 shares of Goldman, and agreed after discussions with the firm’s investor-relations chief Dane Holmes to withdraw its proposal focused on Goldman’s practices with clients and tax secrecy. Fr. Seamus explained, “They finally recognized that we’re not going away and they have to at least engage us.”
Father Finn has met in the past with John F.W. Rogers, Goldman’s board secretary, with Mr. Blankfein and Goldman’s president, Gary D. Cohn.
Faith and Values-Inspired Investments April 16th, 2012
Both the Jewish and Christian communities from their earliest documents display a debate about the foundational questions of ownership, agency, interest and usury. The Holy Quran also offers some unique teachings. Fr. Finn’s blog on Huffington Post reflects on discussions at the Tenth Harvard University Forum on Islamic Finance, and looks at the relationship between faith-consistent (FCI) and socially responsible investing (SRI).